Art & Soul: Sabrena Khadija
This year’s Soul Sour label features all-new, original artwork from Sierra Leonean-American and DC-based illustrator Sabrena Khadija. Inspired by iconic pieces of Black art from the 90s, it features a bright and vibrant Black community with African Geometric Patterns woven throughout. The flavors and references to Black art directly inspired the color palette. We sat down with the artist to learn more about her process and inspiration.
Can you tell us a bit about your artistic background? How you got started, what your preferred medium is, how you’d describe your style, etc.?
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I have a lot of artists in my family so I always felt encouraged to explore my creativity with art. But, it wasn’t until I was much older that I decided to pursue art not only as a hobby, but a passion and career. As a primarily a digital artist, tablets and computers are my preferred medium, but lately I’ve been dabbling in messier mediums to expand my scope a bit. I would describe my style as minimal geometric portraiture. I love drawing people as my subjects, and by using shape and color I am able to create illustrations that bring these subjects to life.
When asked to team up on this project, what made you say yes?
Not many people know it but I used to work as a Packaging Designer before I decided to become a Freelance Illustrator, so I was excited to dive back into familiar waters but with my illustrations at the forefront this time. I also loved the idea of some of the proceeds for Soul Sour going to a cause that champions diversity in brewing.
Where did you find your inspiration for this design? How did the name or flavors of the brew influence the can design and artwork?
I’m not sure if there’s a name for it, but in the 90s a lot of Black homes (mine included) would be decorated with these portraits of Black people similar to the style I used for Soul Sour. These portraits were usually flat illustrations or collages of cloth that would adorn these Black featureless figures in really beautiful West African patterns. The nostalgia of these iconic pieces of Black art immediately became my inspiration for this Soul Sour design. Meanwhile, the flavors and references to Black art directly inspired the color palette.
What does “soul” mean to you? Does that definition manifest itself in your art?
I’m not sure I can describe it well, but to me, “soul” is a deep feeling. It's a self-manifestation that can allow us to connect to others outside of ourselves. It can take on many forms, but in my art I want the bits of me that I put into every piece to become a light that spreads joy to the people that see it, in hopes that it reaches their soul too.
Are you a beer drinker? Do you think beer culture (and the act of sharing a drink with a friend or stranger) promotes inclusion?
I was once an avid beer drinker, but since I hit my 30’s my body has decided that the occasional drink with friends is all I can handle now. But, even if those moments are a bit more sporadic now, the act of coming together and sharing drinks with friends and future friends has been one of my favorite ways to connect with people.
Do you think brews and art overlap in any way? If so, how so?
I think brews and art definitely overlap. I constantly see the presence and importance of art within brew culture, whether it's in the branding of the brew or the spaces they’re shared in.
Who are your biggest artistic influences?
Right now, my biggest artistic influences are my friends and fellow artists. I love seeing the work they do, how their minds work, and how their styles grow and change. Seeing them always inspires me to keep growing as well.
How do you want your art and style to influence the community?
I try to create art for my community as a way to give back to them in one way or another. If people are inspired by or resonate with my art that’s more than enough for me.
What do you hope people take away from this brew? How do you think it will impact others?
I hope people love it! Not only the taste but the design as well. I hope they see it as a little piece of art that can either inspire them to create something themselves, or at least hesitate a little bit when it's time to recycle because they like it so much.
How has your previous artwork influenced the design and artwork?
I may have adjusted my approach a bit with the design, but overall it's still very much my style. Even if my inspirations may change, I try to make sure that everything I create remains in my voice.